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The belly of The Monster

Sights and sounds from baseball's most famous scoreboard

Editor's note: This is the first of a series of articles bringing you an inside look at the Red Sox and Fenway Park.

The belly of the Monster is no place to be if you want beer with your ballgame, or a hotdog, or a bathroom to use, or a breeze. But if you want one of the best views in baseball, sitting in one of the most hallowed icons of the game, then nothing can touch settling back in a hard metal folding chair, leaning forward to peer out one of the little viewing slots, and taking in a game from inside the scoreboard in Fenway’s Green Monster left-field wall.

Yes, it’s hot. Yes, it’s dusty. Yes, it’s dark. (No need for SPF 30 here.) And, yes, an occasional “urban rodent” has been known to scurry about. But on the walls and ceilings are the signatures of Jimmy Piersall and Carlton Fisk and Tony Gwynn and countless other major league stars who have come in here, wide-eyed as little kids, to see this special place. And the view! As you peer out the little viewing slots in the wall, you’re sitting about where a left fielder would be standing in any other ball park. (If you want to spot them, those slots are down under the score and just over the green and red lights at the bottom of the scoreboard, in between the markings for “At Bat”, “Ball”, “Strike” “Out” “H” and “R”.) It’s like you’re in the game.

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“CLONK!” Eric Young of the Rangers has hit one off the Wall. With that dull thud, Chris Elias, head of the three-person crew back here, is quickly out of his chair and over to the stack of green metal plates leaning under a bare light bulb against the back wall. He flips through the stack and retrieves one with the number 14. He knows just where to head on the scoreboard for the slot that holds the number of hits for the visitors, and reaching up over his head deftly slides “13” out and “14” up and in. There are no markings or numbers or signs on the back of all those slots, 26 of them not counting the pitchers and scores for the out-of-town games. Chris just knows in the dim light where there they are, by inning, team, for runs, hits, or errors. They’re all up high, six or seven feet off the sunken floor behind the wall. He has to reach up to do his work.

“It’s not that tough really,” he says. “But when you tell people where you work, their face just lights up and they fire away with all their questions. That’s when you’re reminded we’re pretty lucky to have such a cool job.”   Continued...

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the view from the monster
See what they see ...
Photo Gallery See what they see ...
Follow David Ropeik and the three-man scoreboard crew into the Green Monster.
Fenway insider homepage
Boston.com correspondent David Roepik lifts the curtain and sheds light on the inner-workings of one of baseball’s oldest ballparks.
About the writer
David Ropeik is a former reporter for WCVB-TV, Boston, and previously wrote a science column for the Boston Globe. He is Director of Risk Communication at the Harvard School of Public Health's Center for Risk Analysis. He is co-author of the book "RISK! A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You."
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